Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s relationship with Donald Trump has been anything but smooth, according to a new report from NBC News. Tillerson threatened to quit in July, and openly called Donald Trump a “moron” following his politicized speech to the Boy Scouts.
NBC News reports that Pence had to give Tillerson a “pep talk” and instruct him that he “needed to figure out how to move forward within Trump’s policy framework” in July, after Tillerson threatened to quit over Trump’s Boy Scouts speech.
The president told the kids about “fake polls” and “fake news” and the “tremendous crowds” he drew at his campaign rallies during the 2016 election. Almost immediately Trump’s remarks mobilized America’s scouting community against the organization online.
Tillerson was the national president of the Boy Scouts from 2010 to 2012.
Tillerson, who was in Texas for his son’s wedding in late July when Trump addressed the Boy Scouts, had threatened not to return to Washington, according to three people with direct knowledge of the threats. His discussions with retired Gen. John Kelly, who would soon be named Trump’s second chief of staff, and Defense Secretary James Mattis, helped initially to reassure him, four people with direct knowledge of the exchanges said.
He also called the president a “moron” in front of other top officials:
Tillerson stunned a handful of senior administration officials when he called the president a “moron” after a tense two-hour long meeting in a secure room at the Pentagon called “The Tank,” according to three officials who were present or briefed on the incident. The July 20 meeting came a day after a meeting in the White House Situation Room on Afghanistan policy where Trump rattled his national security advisers by suggesting he might fire the top U.S. commander of the war and comparing the decision-making process on troop levels to the renovation of a high-end New York restaurant, according to participants in the meeting.
It is unclear whether Trump was told of Tillerson’s outburst after the Pentagon meeting or to what extent the president was briefed on Tillerson’s plan to resign earlier in the year.
And put Trump into a fury by not backing his remarks about white nationalists:
In August, Trump was furious with Tillerson over his response to a question about the president’s handling of the racially charged and deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, administration officials said. Trump had said publicly that white nationalists and neo-Nazi sympathizers shared blame for violence with those who came out to protest them.
“The president speaks for himself,” Tillerson said at the time, when asked on “Fox News Sunday” about Trump’s comments.